Fertik estimates that Reputation.com, which received more than $67 million in funding from Kleiner Perkins Caufield & Byers and others, has spent about $20 million in researching and developing its products over the past four years. The company — including at least seven scientists with doctorate degrees — has made "tens of millions of observations" about how search engines operate to develop its technology.
Note that Reputation.com — and most of its competitors — don’t go about trying to remove negative reviews, which are generally protected under the law. Reputation.com is developing technology to help identify fake reviews, but Fertik said that its tools are meant more to analyze the data from the web. “We are not writing reviews for our customers,” he said. “We are not making claims about removing reviews. That is not something we can do.”
Ultimately, small businesses need to be aware that it’s up to them to manage their reputation online and that they can take many of the basic steps on their own. Small businesses can use Get Listed to check websites they still need to appear on. They can establish themselves on Twitter and Facebook, where they can not only publish their side of the story, but also listen and interact with their customers.
“It’s up to a business owner to engage and to improve their business to prevent people from leaving negative feedback in the first place,” Reynolds said. “Take care of your customers.”
If a mistake is made, the best bet is to reach out and respond to the customer, added Kent Lewis, president and founder of Anvil Media and Formic Media, online marketing companies.
“The point is reputation management comes down to relationships and acknowledging the mistakes you made or refuting false accusations,” he said.
Katie Totoonchie, business and marketing director for Financial Profiles, a public relations firm, hired Reputation.com to help tweak the results when people searched for “Moira Conlon,” the firm’s founder and president. Because Conlon had been employed at a well-known public relations firm before starting her new company four years ago, the top results showed her previous employer, the Abernathy MacGregor Group, and not her new one.
Since subscribing to Reputation.com about six months ago, the results have shifted. Reputation.com created a biography of Conlon and posted it throughout the web. Now Conlon’s profile at her new firm appears at the top of a Google search, and her past position is ranked lower in the results, though they would like to see it even lower or on the next page.
“We’re kind of 25 percent of the way there, but we would like to see more progress,” said Totoonchie, who is hoping that eventually those results will move to page two of search results.
Of course, Reputation.com itself receives its share of complaints, and plenty of critics have taken to the Internet to air them. But the search results speak for themselves, Fertik said. "We've done a pretty good job keeping page one clean for ourselves," he said.